May 11, 2013

Notre Dame Avoids Upset, Downs Detroit with Big Fourth Quarter

Freshman Matt Kavanagh scored the tying and winning goals as Notre Dame avoided a huge upset.
© TD Paulius

from staff reports

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame avoided what could have been the biggest upset in NCAA Division I men's tournament history with an enormous fourth-quarter rally to down visiting Detroit 9-7 on Saturday afternoon at Notre Dame's Arlotta Stadium.

The second-seeded Irish trailed the MAAC champion Titans, who entered the game with a 5-9 record, 7-3 at the start of the fourth quarter.

But Notre Dame rallied, outscoring Detroit 6-0 down the stretch and netting four goals in the first 4:50 of the final quarter. The Irish tied the game at 7 with 10:10 left on a Matt Kavanagh goal. Kavanagh then gave the Irish their first lead of the game with 5:27 left on his fourth goal of the game, all of which came in the second half.

Detroit would have been the first team with a sub-.500 record to win an NCAA tournament game, against the second-seeded team in the tournament, nonetheless.

Notre Dame had lost the last two games it had played entering Saturday, both to No. 1 overall tournament seed Syracuse. Detroit needed to win the MAAC tournament just to make the big dance. The Titans had three wins on the season before upsetting Marist and Siena in one-goal games to take the conference title and earn an NCAA tournament automatic qualifying bid.

At halftime, the Titans led 5-1 and were thoroughly dominating Notre Dame, winning 6 of 7 faceoffs and owning the ground ball battle, 18-8.

The teams played an even third quarter, each scoring twice, but the Irish owned the finish. The freshman Kavanagh, who was the MVP of 2012 FIL U19 World Championships playing with Team USA, scored less than a minute into the fourth quarter on a diving shot to ignite the charge.

Sophomore attackman Conor Doyle scored less than a minute later to slice the Detroit advantage to 7-5. Fifth-year senior attackman Sean Rogers deposited his second tally of the day, off an assist from Jim Marlatt, just 48 seconds after Doyle's goal. Then came Kavanagh's momentum swinging pair.

Senior midfielder Ryan Foley registered the game's final goal with 2:31 left. Rogers assisted on the score.

Notre Dame won 6 of 7 faceoffs and scooped 15 ground balls in the fourth quarter alone. The Titans couldn't get anything going, and failed on 5 of 7 clears against Notre Dame's 10-man ride. The Irish outshot Detroit 16-3 in the fourth.

"Offensively, we didn't play very well at all and we kind of played into their hands," Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said. "We may have only had a total of seven possessions in the first half and that's kind of horrific. We knew we had to change that so we waited as long as we thought we could and then went 10-man (ride). You can't do that for an entire half or else your guys will die. We changed the tempo and then got some possessions and got the ball in space for some of our offensive guys who were able to make plays."

Goals from Brandon Beauregard and Alex Maini gave Detroit (5-10) a 2-0 lead by the end of the opening quarter. Doyle put the Irish on the board with 12:08 left in the second quarter, but goals from Maini, Beauregard and Mike Birney had the Titans up 5-1 at halftime.

"I thought Detroit played really well today," Corrigan said. "They came in with a gameplan and it wasn't surprise to us, but they executed well."

Rogers cut the Detroit advantage to three (5-2) with 10:19 remaining in the third quarter, but the Titans responded on a Tom Masterson goal with 8:22 left in the period. Kavanagh's first tally of the day came midway through the third quarter to make it a 6-3 affair. Beauregard's team-high third goal put the Titans up 7-3 after three periods of play.

"In the first three periods, we came out to take it," Detroit head coach Matt Holtz said. "We really took it to them and we were leading almost every single stat across the board in the first three periods. We kind of ran out of gas and in the fourth quarter they started taking it from us. When a team is that good and scores that close, you just can't give them an opportunity like that."

Notre Dame outshot Detroit 30-27 in the game. Senior goalie John Kemp made 10 saves for the Irish, while his counterpart A.J. Levell also had 10 stops. The Irish defense kept the Titans off the scoreboard for the final 19:57 of the contest.

Detroit held a slight edge in faceoffs, winning 10-of-19 attempts. Notre Dame sophomore Nick Ossello was 7-of-11 in faceoffs, while junior Liam O'Connor was 2-of-6 and freshman Trevor Brosco was 0-of-2.

Kavanagh's four goals matched a season-high total that he achieved two other times (Duke & North Carolina). They are the most goals for a Notre Dame player in an NCAA Championship contest since Neal Hicks tallied four in a 12-7 win over Cornell in the semifinals of the 2010 tournament. They are the most goals ever for a Notre Dame freshman in an NCAA tournament game.

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